June 17 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. oil supplies rose to the highest level in 31 years for the month of May as refineries processed less crude amid a decline in gasoline demand, according to the American Petroleum Institute.
Inventories increased for a fifth consecutive month to 367.6 million barrels, a record for May in data going back to 1980, the industry-funded group said today in a report. Supplies were up 0.7 percent from April and 2.6 percent from a year earlier. Refineries processed 4.8 percent less crude than during the same month last year, at 14.7 million barrels a day.
“Consumers of gasoline may have been adjusting to higher prices by increasing use of public transportation, more telecommuting, more purchases of fuel efficient vehicles and cutting down on discretionary travel,” John Felmy, chief economist with the Washington-based API, said in a statement.
Demand for gasoline declined 0.7 percent from May 2010 to 9.16 million barrels a day, a two-year low. Gasoline pump prices averaged 37 percent higher in May from the same month last year and were up 2.5 percent from April, according to AAA data compiled by Bloomberg.
Gasoline production was 2 percent higher than in May 2010 at 9.37 million barrels a day, a record for any May and the highest level this year.
Total U.S. fuel demand rose in May amid demand for distillate fuel, including heating oil and diesel. Deliveries of petroleum products, a measure of consumption, climbed 3.6 percent to 22 million barrels a day.
Demand for distillate fuel rose 7 percent to 3.89 million barrels a day. Consumption of ultra-low sulfur diesel, the type used on highways, climbed 25 percent to average 3.39 million barrels a day, the report showed. Heating-oil use slipped 5.4 percent to 398,000 barrels a day.
Jet-fuel use fell 7.3 percent to an average 1.32 million barrels a day last month compared with the same period in 2010.
U.S. crude-oil production slipped 1.6 percent to an average 5.4 million barrels a day. Output in the lower 48 states dropped 2.7 percent to 4.77 million barrels a day. Alaskan production increased 8.1 percent to 615,000 barrels a day.
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